Saddam Hussein marked his 61st birthday on Tuesday entrenched as Iraq's strongman despite more than seven years of tough U-N sanctions which have crippled the economy.
Celebrations were held throughout the country to mark the occasion with soldiers, school children and ordinary citizens all joining in.
Saddam himself attended a birthday party at one of his palaces in Baghdad where he was entertained by a large group of children.
President Saddam Hussein left his army uniform at home and donned a smart white suit for his own personal birthday party.
He was entertained by scores of children at one of his many lavish palaces in Baghdad.
Born on April 28, 1937 in Tikrit, Saddam became a militant member of the Baath Party in the 1950s and was involved in an assassination attempt against then prime minister Abdel-Karim Qassem in 1959.
He became ruler of the country in 1979, leading Iraq through the 1980-88 war with Iran and then the Gulf War when U-S-led forces evicted Iraqi troops from Kuwait in early 1991.
Since then the country has faced some hard times as economic sanctions have kept it from freely exporting its lucrative oil reserves.
Some were hoping the United Nations might decide to give Saddam a birthday present and lift the embargo against Iraq this week.
Two Jordanian aircraft laden with U-S humanitarian supplies did land in Baghdad, bringing the first American airlift since the 1990 Gulf crisis over Kuwait.
But late on Monday, the Security Council decided to renew economic sanctions against the country, although the U-S acknowledged for the first time that Iraq had made some progress on scrapping its nuclear weapons programme.
In Tikrit, Saddam's home town, a massive cake in the shape of a mosque was cut as part of the public celebrations.
Saddam was not there to cut the cake, instead Izzar Ibrahim, vice-chairman of the powerful Revolutionary Command Council lit a candle and handed out slices to Council members.
A government controlled daily newspaper had boasted earlier in the day that 22 million candles had been lit with joy on the beloved president's birthday - one from each Iraqi citizen.
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